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II  E      L  A  Y 


KO  S  S  O \   c 


*** 


THE  LAY  OF  KOSSOVO 

SERBIA'S   PAST   AND    PRESENT 
(1389—1917) 


BY 

F.   W.  Harvey,  C.  Oman,  Sir  Arthur  Evans,  T.  R.  Gjorgjeoitch, 
Alice  and  Claude  Askew,  G.  K.  Chesterton 


AND 

THREE 

SERBIAN  BALLADS 


For   the   Anniversary   of   the   Kossovo    Day   Celebration   in   Great 

Britain  on  the  28th  of  June,   1916,  published  by  the 

Kossovo  Day  Committee 

1917 


PREFACE. 

For  the  first  time  for  centuries  last  year  the  Serbs  were  not  able  to 
celebrate  their  great  national  festival  in  freedom  in  their  own  country. 
Their  British  friends  most  graciously  made  it  possible  for  them  to  observe 
Kossovo  Day  in  Great  Britain — a  tribute,  of  course,  to  the  heroism  of  the 
Serbs,  but  also  a  proof  of  the  great  interest  of  the  British  public  in  the 
Serbian  people  and  of  an  increasing  appreciation  of  their  cause. 

Under  Dr.  Elsie  Inglis  (as  Chairman)  and  Dr.  Seton  Watson  (as  Hon. 
Secretary),  a  National  Committee  was  formed,  consisting  of  : — 

The  Lady  Cowdray,  Mrs.  St.  Clair  Stobart, 

Lady  Grogan,  Mrs.  Flinders  Petrie, 

Lady  Paget,  Mrs.  Carrington  Wilde, 

The  Hon.  Mrs.  Haverfield,  Mr.  James  Berry,  F.R.C.S., 

Dr.  Dickinson  Berry,  The  Rev.  Percy  Dearmer,  D.D., 

Mrs.  Kinnell,  The  Rev.  H.  J.  Fynes-Clinton, 

Mr.  F.  C.  Lindo. 

Two  Serbian  members  were  added  to  this  (Father  Nicolas  Velimirovic, 
Dr,  M.  Curcin). 

All  the  members  took  a  most  active  part  in  the  work. 

The  memory  of  this  celebration  will  remain  and  afford  great  satis- 
faction to  the  Serbs,  and  the  late  Committee  think  it  worth  while  to  com- 
memorate the  anniversary  by  publishing  two  excellent  articles  from 
Professor  C.  Oman  and  Professor  Gjorgjevitch,  which  came  too  late  to  be 
used  last  year.  To  these  are  added,  by  kind  permission  of  their  authors 
and  the  editors  of  the  papers  in  which  they  first  appeared,  three  other 
articles  which  aroused  much  interest  at  the  time  ;  while  the  translation 
of  three  Serbian  ballads  may  help  to  complete  a  pamphlet  which  shall 
evoke  in  its  entirety  the  Kossovo  idea — the  key  to  a  right  understanding 
of  the  history  as  well  as  of  the  poetry  and  civilisation  of  the  Serbian  people. 


KOSSOVO  DAY. 

FROM  this  sweet  nest  of  peace  and  Summer  blue — 
England  in  June — a  sea-bird's  nest  indeed 
Guarded  of  waves,  and  hid  by  the  sea-weed 
From  envious  hunter's  eye,  we  send  to  you 
Our  flying  thoughts  and  prayers,   our  treasure  too, 
Poor  though  it  be  to  bandage  wounds  that  bleed 
For  country  dear  beloved.     There  the  seed 
Of  homely  loves  and  occupations  grew 
To  wither  in  the  flame  of  Godless  might 
Kindled  by  hands  of  treachery,  yet  reeking 
With  blood  of  friends  and  neighbours.     Serbia,  thou 
Has  thought  us  careless  and  far  off ;  know  now 
Thy  name  to  us  is  sudden  drums  outspeaking 
And  tortured  trumpets   crying  in  the  night  I 

F.  W.  HARVEY. 
("  Westminster  Gazette  "  oj  the  28th  June,  1916.) 


2045132 


1389.  On  the  I5/A  June,  on  the  Day  oj  St.  Vitus — 
it  was  Tuesday — was  a  battle  between  Serbs  and  Ottomans. 
Amongst  the  Serbs  were  Despot  Lazar,  the  King,  and 
Vuk  Brankovitch  and  Vlatko  Vukovich,  the  Dukes.  There 
was  great  slaughter,  as  much  among  the  Turks  as  the  Serbs, 
and  few  returned  to  their  own  country.  Both  Tsar  Murat 
and  the  King  of  Serbia  were  killed ;  and  victory  was  not 
granted  either  to  the  Turks  or  the  Serbs,  so  great  was  the 
carnage.  And  the  battle  took  place  on  the  Field  ofKossovo. 

Old  Ragusan  Report.  (Monumenta  Spectantia 
Historiam  Slavorum  Meridionalium,  XIV.,  48.) 


AN  OLD  TREASON  AGAINST  CHRISTENDOM. 

WHO  let  the  Turks  into  Europe — to  be  for  more  than  five 
centuries  the  curse  of  Eastern  Christendom  ?  Historians 
have  made  many  answers,  and  blamed  many  culprits. 
Some  speak  merely  of  the  weakness  of  the  Byzantine  emperors 
who  followed  on  the  extinction  of  the  great  house  of  the 
Comneni  in  1185.  Others,  descending  a  few  years,  place  the 
responsibility  on  the  piratical  Western  Crusaders  of  1204,  who 
shattered  the  Byzantine  Empire  so  that  all  its  pieces  could 
never  be  patched  together  again  ;  Athens  and  Achaia, 
Crete,  Albania  and  the  Cyclades  being  lopped  away,  the 
restored  empire  of  the  Palaeologi  was  never  strong  enough  to 
discharge  its  proper  function  as  warder  of  the  Eastern  gate  of 
Europe  against  the  oncoming  Moslem.  Yet  another  school 
pleads  that  the  final  ruin  of  the  Christian  East  was  due  to 
the  commercial  greed  of  the  Venetians  and  Genoese,  who 
kept  the  Palaeologi  in  economic  fetters  by  means  of  their 
chains  of  fortified  factories  and  island  strongholds,  and 
mortally  injured  the  Constantinopolitan  empire  by  economic 
starvation,  long  ere  its  last  day  came. 

There  is  some  truth  in  each  of  these  contentions.  But 
yet  another  factor  was  operative,  which  worked  more  directly, 
and  at  the  actual  moment  of  the  first  Turkish  invasions  of 
Europe.  All  the  forces  that  we  have  named  above  were  at 
their  evil  work  for  a  century  or  more  before  the  day  on  which 
the  Emir  Soliman,  the  son  of  Orchan,  seized  Gallipoli,  and 
planted  the  horse-tail  standard  for  the  first  time  on  European 
soil.  There  was  another  enemy  who  stabbed  the  defenders  of 
Eastern  Christendom  in  the  back,  at  the  very  moment  when 
they  were  doing  their  best  to  fend  off  the  new  attack  from 
the  East.  It  is  not  too  much  to  say  that  the  most  criminal  of 


all  the  political  malefactors  who  were  responsible  for  letting 
the  Turk  into  the  Balkans  was  a  king  of  Hungary,  the  capable 
and  ambitious  Lewis  the  Great,  who  ruined  Serbia  when  the 
duty  of  guarding  the  Eastern  March  had  fallen  to  her  charge. 

For  this  fact  must  first  be  realised.  By  the  fourteenth 
century  the  Byzantine  empire  was  irretrievably  decadent. 
Shrunken  and  wasted,  shorn  of  many  provinces,  economically 
ruined  by  Venice  and  Genoa,  ruled  by  a  long  line  of  shiftless 
and  bankrupt  Emperors,  the  Eastern  Caesarate  had  no 
fighting  power  left.  When  the  Ottoman  State  had  organised 
itself,  and  delivered  its  attack  on  Europe,  it  was  not  the 
Palaeologi  who  could  be  expected  to  defend  Christendom. 
The  barrier  against  aggression  from  Asia  had  to  be  made  by 
the  nation  which  lay  behind  the  narrow  coast-slip  of 
Byzantine  territory,  and  dominated  the  whole  interior  of  the 
Balkan  Peninsula. 

That  nation  was  the  Serbian  people.  In  1354  it  was 
on  them  that  the  responsibility  fell,  when  the  Turk  had 
established  himself  on  the  Dardanelles.  Now  if  the  Ottoman 
attack  had  been  delivered  a  few  years  earlier,  it  would  have 
been  worthily  met.  From  1331  to  1355  the  greatest  of 
Serbian  monarchs  was  reigning,  and  had  well  nigh  the  whole 
Balkan  Peninsula  firmly  in  his  grasp.  Stephen  Dushan 
had  conquered  all  his  neighbours  :  the  kings  of  Bosnia  and 
Bulgaria  were  his  vassals  :  he  had  won  not  only  Macedonia 
but  Thessaly  and  Southern  Albania.  All  was  his  from  the 
Danube  to  Thermopylae ;  he  had  opened  his  way  to  the  Adriatic 
as  well  as  to  the  ^Egean.  He  had  built  up  a  State  which 
might  have  faced  any  invader  with  confidence,  including 
even  the  formidable  Ottoman.  Practically  he  had  reconsti- 
tuted the  Eastern  Empire,  with  a  Serbian  instead  of  a 
Byzantine  nucleus,  and  from  his  new  capital  of  Uscup,  where 
he  had  assumed  the  imperial  title  of  Tzar,  he  ruled  the 
Balkan  Peninsula  far  more  firmly  than  any  of  his  Byzantine 
predecessors  had  done  for  three  centuries  back. 

In  1355,  to  the  eternal  misfortune  of  Eastern  Europe, 
Stephen  Dushan  died,  a  few  months  after  the  Ottoman 
invasion  began,  leaving  a  son  under  age  as  the  heir  to  his 
great  empire.  Just  after  the  Turks  got  their  first  firm  foothold 


in  Europe,  they  found  a  minor  on  the  Serbian  throne,  and  all 
the  vassal  princes  who  had  served  the  formidable  Tzar 
disowning  their  allegiance  to  his  heir.  Yet  even  so  the  game 
was  not  yet  lost :  it  took  Sultan  Murad  several  years  to 
secure  his  foothold  in  Europe,  and  to  conquer  the  Byzantine 
possessions  in  Thrace.  The  Serbians  might  have  held  him 
back,  though  they  were  no  longer  led  by  one  great  king 
but  by  several  factious  princes,  if  only  they  had  been  left 
alone  to  fight  the  battle  which  was  not  only  in  their  own 
defence,  but  in  the  defence  of  all  Christendom. 

They  were  not  permitted  to  do  so  ;  when  the  Tzar 
Stephen  died  in  1355,  his  successor  as  the  dominating  person- 
ality in  Eastern  Europe  was  Lewis  the  Great,  King  of  Hungary 
from  1342  to  1382,  a  great  fighting  man  with  an  insatiable 
appetite  for  annexation.  When  Stephen  was  dead,  and  the 
boy  Urosh,  surrounded  by  over-powerful  and  ambitious 
vassal  princes,  reigned  in  his  stead,  Hungary's  opportunity  had 
come.  From  1359  onward  King  Lewis  kept  up  a  constant 
aggression  against  his  Serbian  neighbours,  and  that  no  less 
after  than  before  they  had  begun  to  engage  in  the  inevitable 
struggle  with  the  oncoming  Turk.  In  1359  he  fell  upon  and 
conquered  Northern  Bosnia  and  endeavoured  to  set  a  nominee 
of  his  own  on  the  Serbian  throne  ;  a  few  years  later,  in  1365, 
he  crossed  the  Danube,  and  seized  Belgrade — the  old 
Serbian  capital — and  the  surrounding  district.  This  blow 
was  a  particularly  cruel  one,  for  the  Serbians  were  at  the 
moment  smarting  under  the  first  defeats  which  they  had 
received  from  the  Turks.  It  was  in  1363  that  considerable 
Serbian  forces,  advancing  to  recover  Adrianople,  had  been 
cut  to  pieces  on  the  Maritza,  not  far  from  that  city,  at  the 
first  battle  of  Chernomen.  A  rally  was  still  possible,  if  the 
nation  had  been  left  to  settle  its  own  destiny.  But  this  was 
not  to  be  :  in  the  hour  of  defeat  Hungary  fell  upon  its  rear, 
and  seized  Belgrade. 

And  this  was  but  the  first  of  a  long  series  of  aggressions  : 
King  Lewis  was  always  hammering  at  the  back  of  the 
Serbians  while  they  were  engaged  with  the  Turks  in  front. 
He  wished  to  dominate  the  Balkan  Peninsula.  Presently 
he  passed  into  Bulgaria,  and  made  Widdin  and  the  neigh- 
bouring district  a  Hungarian  Banat  (1365-1369). 


Now  if  Lewis  had  made  the  conquest  of  the  Balkan  lands 
his  main  life's  work,  he  might  conceivably  have  built  up  an 
empire  as  broad  and  strong  as  that  which  a  few  years  before 
had  obeyed  Tzar  Stephen  Dushan,  for  Hungary  was  even  a 
stronger  basis  on  which  to  build  than  Serbia.  But  the 
Balkan  wars  were,  most  unhappily,  only  a  side  issue  to  him. 
He  had  a  Western  policy,  and  was  busy  in  the  affairs  of  the 
Italian  Peninsula.  In  especial  he  was  a  great  enemy  of 
Venice,  from  whom  he  desired  to  wrest  the  Dalmatian  sea 
coast,  the  natural  outlet  of  Hungary  to  the  sea.  He  made 
his  first  raid  upon  it  in  1356,  but  did  not  finally  succeed  in 
tearing  the  whole  long  province  from  the  Venetian  Republic 
till  1381.  Moreover  he  had  also  an  ambitious  Polish  policy, 
which  ultimately  ended  in  his  succeeding  to  the  crown  of 
Casimir  IV.  of  Poland  at  the  latter's  death,  in  1370. 

A  King  with  so  many  irons  in  the  fire  was  the  worst 
possible  neighbour  for  the  Balkan  Peninsula,  when  the  Turks 
were  beginning  their  first  assault  upon  its  southern  slopes.  He 
was  interested  in  it  enough  to  induce  him  to  strike  hard  at 
the  unfortunate  Serbians,  and  to  break  their  power  by  a  long 
series  of  blows.  But  he  was  not  sufficiently  interested  by  his 
southern  conquests  to  make  him  devote  himself  to  the  idea 
of  building  up  a  great  Balkan  Empire.  If  he  had  been, 
there  might  have  arisen  a  power  strong  enough  to  face  and 
turn  back  every  Turkish  attack.  But  while  Lewis  was  busy 
with  Italy  and  Poland,  the  Asiatic  enemy  slipped  in,  and 
gradually  won  for  himself  a  foothold  in  Macedonia  and  Thrace, 
from  which  the  distressed  Serbians  could  never  expel  him. 
Lewis  continued  his  Balkan  enterprises  at  the  most  unhappily 
chosen  times.  In  1369  the  Bulgarians,  with  Serbian  and 
Wallachian  aid,  drove  the  Hungarians  out  of  Widdin.  In 
the  next  year  Lewis  came  down  into  the  Balkans  with  a  larger 
army  than  ever  before,  and  flooding  across  north-eastern 
Serbia  and  western  Bulgaria  recovered  Widdin  and  restored 
his  previous  domination  on  the  Danube.  The  Bulgarians  in 
despair  actually  offered  homage  to  the  Turk,  in  order  to  save 
themselves  from  the  Western  invader,  who  was  conducting 
his  invasion  under  the  disguise  of  a  Crusade,  and  forcibly 
rebaptising  the  "  orthodox "  peasantry  into  the  Latin 
church.  It  was  in  1370  that  the  unhappy  cry  "  Better  be 


vassal  to  the  Moslem  than  be  damned  for  joining  the  heretical 
Roman  Church  "  was  first  heard  in  Europe.  Alas  !  it  was 
to  be  echoed  in  later  years,  not  only  in  Bulgaria,  but  in 
Serbia  and  in  Constantinople.  It  was  a  Greek  admiral  who 
cried  in  the  last  agony  of  the  Byzantine  Empire  "  that  he 
would  rather  see  the  turban  of  the  Turk  predominate  in  the 
Holy  City  than  the  Red  Hat  of  the  Cardinal." 

It  was  while  King  Lewis's  unhappy  crusade  seemed  the 
main  fact  in  Balkan  politics  that  the  second  great  disaster 
fell  on  Serbia.  The  young  King  Urosh  was  on  his  death  bed — 
his  rival  for  the  crown,  the  Macedonian  Despot  Vukachin, 
made  an  attempt  to  take  the  Turks  in  flank  while  they  were 
engaged  in  Bulgarian  campaigning,  and  came  to  an  unhappy 
end  in  the  second  battle  of  the  Maritza  in  1371,  with  many 
Serbian  princes  more.  Next  year  the  Sultan  overran  all 
Macedonia,  and  Serbian  power  south  of  the  Balkans  ceased. 
No  hope  came  from  the  North  because  of  the  Hungarian  peril. 

Even  when  Lewis  the  Great  died  in  1382  he  did  not 
leave  behind  him  as  a  legacy  a  united  Kingdom  of  Poland  and 
Hungary,  though  he  had  been  at  such  pains  to  join  them. 
That  would  have  been  a  State  strong  enough  to  hold  for  ever 
against  the  Turks  the  line  of  the  Danube,  if  not  that  of  the 
Balkans.  But  at  his  death  Hungary  and  Poland  fell  apart — 
Hungary  went  to  his  daughter  Mary  and  her  husband 
Sigismund  of  Luxembourg,  afterwards  Emperor,  all  of  whose 
interests  lay  in  the  West ;  Poland,  which  made  Lewis' 
other  daughter,  Hedwiga,  its  queen,  became  united,  by  her 
marriage  with  Jagellon  of  Lithuania,  to  lands  east  and 
north,  and  involved  herself  in  a  long  struggle  with  Moscow 
for  the  domination  of  all  the  Russians.  Therefore  Lewis' 
conquests  in  the  Balkans  were  all  wasted  energy,  since  his 
successors  had  their  interests  elsewhere.  He  merely  helped 
the  Turk  to  break  up  the  Slav  state  which  might  have  served 
as  the  first  outpost  of  Christendom,  after  the  Byzantine 
emperors  had  proved  utterly  unable  to  discharge  that 
function. 

It  was  the  Turks  who  made  an  end  of  the  Serbian  power, 
despite  the  strenuous  efforts  of  the  last  independent  King  of 
Serbia,  Lazarus,  whose  reign  of  eighteen  years  (1371-1389) 


was  one  constant  crisis  of  peril.  But  it  was  Lewis  of  Hungary 
who  had  made  the  task  of  Lazarus  impossible.  It  was  the 
repeated  Hungarian  invasions  from  the  north  which  rendered 
the  defence  of  the  southern  Serbian  lands  impossible. 
Lazarus  had  to  look  on  helplessly  while  Macedonia  was 
overrun  by  the  Ottomans,  because  his  own  concern — his 
personal  dominions  lay  along  the  Danube — was  more  with 
the  lands  of  the  north-west  on  which  the  Hungarian  was 
encroaching. 

By  the  time  that  Lewis  was  dead  (1382)  in  the  eleventh 
year  of  the  troublous  reign  of  Lazarus,  all  the  Christian 
lands  south  of  the  Balkan  range  were  irretrievably  lost. 
It  is  true  that  Sigismund  of  Luxembourg,  the  son-in-law 
and  successor  of  Lewis,  was  not  such  a  formidable  enemy 
to  Serbia  as  the  great  Lewis,  but  he  was  equally  blind  to  the 
necessity  of  holding  back  the  Ottoman  from  Eastern  Christen- 
dom till  the  danger  became  his  own,  after  Serbia  had  been 
wrecked  at  Kossovo,  and  the  wave  of  Ottoman  invasion  at 
last  washed  up  to  the  Danube.  In  1389  he  was  at  peace  with 
Lazarus,  but  he  was  not  at  his  side  in  arms  against  the  Turk, 
as  any  Hungarian  King  who  saw  the  danger  of  the  coming 
storm  should  have  been.  On  hearing  of  the  unhappy 
day  of  Kossovo  his  first  act  was  to  make  his  private  profit 
out  of  the  disaster  to  Christendom.  His  armies  at  once 
crossed  the  Danube  and  seized  Belgrade  and  the  surrounding 
district  along  the  Danube,  which  his  father-in-law  had 
already  once  before  conquered  in  1365.  Hungary  profited 
by  Serbia's  ruin.  It  was  a  true  instance  of  Nemesis  that  for 
three  hundred  years  Hungary  was  to  pay  for  her  treachery 
to  Christendom  in  the  fourteenth  century  :  first  by  facing 
a  hundred  and  thirty  years  of  Turkish  invasions,  then  by 
enduring  a  Turkish  conquest,  after  Mohacs  (1526) — the 
Hungarian  equivalent  for  Kossovo — and  finally  by  seeing 
B  uda  the  seat  of  a  Turkish  Pasha  for  a  hundred  and  seventy 
ye  ars  more. 

C.  OMAN. 


THE  BATTLE  OF  KOSSOVO. 

June  15th,  OS.  1389. 
I. 

The  rise  of  the  Serbian  nation  in  the  Middle  Ages, 
which  began  under  the  Serbian  Grand  Zhupan,  Stephen 
Nemanya  (1169-1196),  and  continued  under  his  heirs, 
reached  its  zenith  under  the  Emperor  Stephen  Dushan 
(1331-1355).  During  the  period  that  elapsed  between  the 
reigns  of  Nemanya  and  Dushan,  Serbia,  from  being  a  vassal 
of  Byzantium,  first  became  an  independent  county,  then  a 
kingdom  (1217),  and  finally  an  Empire  (1346).  The 
Serbian  Church,  before  that  time  under  the  Archbishopric 
of  Ochrida,  became  independent  (1220),  and  subsequently 
rose  to  the  rank  of  a  patriarchate  (1346).  In  Dushan's 
reign  the  frontiers  of  Serbia  extended  from  the  Save  and  the 
Danube  to  the  Gulf  of  Corinth,  and  from  the  Adriatic  as 
far  as  Adrianople.  Her  national  agricultural  wealth, 
her  mines,  her  trade  with  foreign  countries  near  and  far, 
resulted  in  complete  prosperity  ;  literature,  architecture, 
and  the  other  arts  being  almost  unequalled  by  any  other 
European  countries  at  that  time.  Legislation  attained  its 
climax  in  Dushan's  Law  Book,  a  masterpiece  of  mediaeval 
jurisprudence.  Serbia  was  bidding  fair  to  become  the 
leading  State  in  the  Near  East. 

Dushan  was  at  his  death  succeeded  by  his  nineteen-year- 
old  son  Urosh  as  Emperor  of  Serbia  (1355-1371),  "  a  youth 
of  great  parts,  quiet  and  gracious,  but  without  experience," 
as  contemporary  Serbian  chroniclers  describe  him.  Though- 
out  the  vast  extent  of  the  Empire  it  was  soon  apparent 
that  the  strong  hand  of  Dushan  was  no  longer  at  the  helm. 
The  feudal  barons  made  themselves  masters  of  provinces, 
ruled  independently  and  fought  among  themselves.  Thus, 
while  Serbia  under  Urosh  was  becoming  weakened  by 
internal  dissensions,  events  were  developing  in  the  East 
which  were  to  exercise  a  decisive  influence  not  only 
upon  the  fate  of  Serbia,  but  upon  the  whole  civilized 
world — the  rise  and  advance  of  the  Turks  into  Europe. 


After  they  had  wrested  Gallipoli  from  the  Greeks  (1354), 
they  began  to  attack  Byzantium  and  the  outlying  Serbian 
provinces,  and  in  1359  the  renowned  Sultan  Murat  came 
to  the  throne,  a  wise  and  fearless  ruler  of  the  first  order. 
He  crossed  to  Europe  in  1360,  conquering  Chorlu  and 
Dimotika  (1361),  Zagora  (1362),  Philippople  (1363),  and 
Adrianople  (1365)  where  he  established  his  throne.  Within 
five  years  Murat  conquered  Thrace  from  the  Sea  of  Marmora 
to  the  Balkan  Mountains  and  from  the  Black  Sea  to  Rhodope, 
and  transferred  the  Turkish  centre  of  strength  from  Asia 
to  Europe.  Byzantium,  convulsed  by  internecine  strife, 
failed  to  resist  the  Turks  from  the  very  first  ;  indeed,  the 
various  Emperors  and  their  rivals  actually  sought  the 
support  of  the  Turks  and  vied  in  outbidding  one  another  in 
the  concessions  each  demanded  of  the  Turks.  When  the 
danger  of  their  increasing  power  at  last  became  apparent, 
the  Emperor  Jovan  twice  traversed  Europe,  beseeching 
the  Christian  princes  for  help  against  the  Turks,  but  without 
success.  Bulgaria,  also  divided  by  dissensions,  was  quickly 
penetrated,  the  conquest  of  Eastern  Bulgaria,  with  its  royal 
seat  Trnovo,  and  Western  Bulgaria  with  its  capital  of  Vidin, 
presenting  no  difficulty. 

The  southern  principalities  of  Serbia  were  the  first  to 
feel  the  Turkish  danger.  Vukashin,  one  of  Dushan's  vassal 
princes,  in  1366  proclaimed  himself  King  of  the  Serbians 
in  Macedonia.  His  chief  ally  and  supporter  was  the  despot 
Ugljesha,  who  ruled  over  the  neighbouring  eastern  Serbian 
counties  on  the  Greek  and  Turkish  frontiers  and  had  his 
capitial  at  Ser,  Seres  of  to-day.  Vukashin  and  Ugljesha 
decided  to  attack  the  Turks  and  expel  them  from  Europe. 
They  gathered  a  considerable  army  and  went  to  meet  the 
invaders,  but  the  Turks  took  them  by  surprise  at  Chernomen 
(Chirmen)  on  the  left  banks  of  the  River  Maritza,  and  their 
armies  were  cut  to  pieces  ;  both  Vukashin  and  Ugljesha 
perished,  September  26th,  1371.  Soon  afterwards,  on 
December  4th,  the  young  Tzar  Urosh  died  likewise. 

The  battle  of  Cernomen  laid  open  the  way  to  Serbia, 
and  the  Turks  soon  overran  the  whole  of  Macedonia.  Of 
Dushan's  vast  Empire,  only  the  district  north  of  the  Shar 
mountain  and  the  Crna  Gora  of  Uskub  retained  its  freedom, 
ruled  independently  by  the  feudal  lords  of  the  Empire, 
most  important  of  whom  were  Prince  Lazar,  of  the  Morava 
and  Danube  territories,  whose  court  was  in  Krushevatz. 
Further  westward  ruled  Prince  Vuk  Brankovitch  and  still 
further  westward  George  Balshitch  to  the  coastland  and 
Montenegro  of  to-day.  There  was  also  the  independent 
kingdom  of  Bosnia,  which  was  at  the  time  ruled  by  King 


Tvrtko.  In  the  hour  of  danger  which  threatened  all  Serbian 
lands  alike,  Lazar,  the  foremost  in  authority  and  linked 
to  the  House  of  Nemanya  through  his  wife  Militza,  concluded 
an  alliance  with  all  the  Serbian  princes,  in  mutual  defence 
against  the  Turks.  He  was  the  first  to  bear  the  brunt  of 
their  attack,  and  as  long  as  it  was  possible,  most  wisely  and 
heroically  did  he  resist  it. 

The  battle  of  Chernomen  had  not  only  cleared  the  way 
to  Serbia  for  the  Turks,  but  exposed  Bulgaria  also  ;  Sofia 
fell  in  1382,  and  the  Bulgarian  Tzar  Shishman  became  a 
Turkish  vassal.  Thus  the  danger  from  the  Turks  threatened 
the  Serbs  not  only  from  the  south  but  also  from  the  east. 
In  1386  the  Turks  wrested  Nish  from  the  Serbs  ;  however 
in  the  important  battle  at  Plotchnik  (on  the  river  Toplitza, 
between  Prokuplje  and  Kurshumja),  the  Turks  met  with 
the  first  defeat  since  the  invincible  Sultan  Murat  embarked 
on  his  career  of  conquest  in  the  Balkans.  Though  the  blow 
was  a  hard  one,  it  spurred  the  Turks  on  to  make  better 
preparations.  So  did  Prince  Lazar,  too,  and  the  alliance 
between  him  and  the  other  Serbian  princes  was  renewed 
and  strengthened.  The  neighbouring  States  of  Albania, 
Rumania  and  Hungary,  who  had,  later  on,  to  pay  for 
their  inactivity  against  the  Turks,  declined  to  take  steps 
against  the  invaders.  Hungary  even  prepared  to  attack 
Lazar  in  those  fateful  days.  Meanwhile  Sultan  Murat 
launched  his  armies  against  the  Serbs  at  Kossovo. 


II. 

A  vast  plateau,  fourteen  leagues  in  length  and  five 
across,  which  extends  through  the  centre  of  the  western 
half  of  the  Balkan  Peninsula  and  is  intersected  by  little 
hills  and  hillocks,  and  surrounded  on  all  sides  by  lofty 
mountains,  is  the  Kossovo  Plain,  or,  more  simply,  Kossovo. 
In  order  to  reach  it,  it  is  necessary  to  descend  through 
narrow  passes,  down  which  flow  turbulent  rivers.  Over 
these  passes  both  nations  and  armies  crossed  for  centuries, 
on  their  way  between  the  south-east  and  the  north-west 
of  the  Balkan  Peninsula.  Therefore  Kossovo  has  been 
often  a  field  of  blood,  and  the  "  bloody  Sitnitza  "  river 
in  the  national  songs  has  deserved  its  epiteton  ornans. 
It  saw  a  battle  in  1073  between  the  Serbs  and  the  Byzantines 
with  the  Bulgar  Allies.  One  hundred  years  later,  Stephen 
Nemanya  defeated  his  brothers  on  Kossovo,  thus  establishing 
his  own  independence  and  paving  the  way  to  Serbian 
Empire.  Later,  in  1403,  there  was  a  battle  on  Kossovo 
Plain  between  the  Serbian  despot  Stephen  Lazarevitch 


and  the  Turkish  Sultan  Mussa  ;  in  1448  one  between  the 
Hungarian  army  under  Jovan  Hunyady  and  the  Turks, 
and  in  1689  one  between  the  Austrians  under  Piccolomini 
and  the  Turks.  The  19th  century  witnessed  an  encounter 
between  some  of  the  Bosnian  insurgent  Begs  (Beys)  and 
the  Turks,  and  the  first  stronger  attacks  of  the  first' Balkan 
War  in  1912  were  delivered  at  Mrdare — on  the  gates  of 
Kossovo.  But  of  all  the  battles  on  Kossovo  Plain  the 
most  important  is  that  which  took  place  on  Vidov-Dan 
(St.  Virus'  Day),  June  15th,  O.S.,  1389,  between  the  Turks 
and  the  Serbian  allied  armies.  That  is  the  battle  for  which 
Kossovo  is  known  to  the  world,  and  the  one  of  which  men 
think  when  Kossovo  is  mentioned. 

As  to  the  details  of  the  actual  fighting  of  Kossovo  in 
1389,  historical  sources  disagree,  and  it  is  rather  difficult 
to  give  an  approximately  correct  and  vivid  description  of 
it.  But  what  is  proved  beyond  doubt  is  that  Sultan  Murat's 
armies  numbered  no  less  than  80,000  men — a  large  number 
for  those  days.  Composed  of  cavalry,  infantry,  and  bow- 
men, their  military  organisation  was  perfect,  their  equip- 
ment complete  and  their  discipline  iron.  In  addition  to 
this  the  force  of  Mussulman  fanaticism  and  the  prospect 
of  rich  booty,  gave  great  impulse  to  the  Turkish  troops. 
The  command  was  in  the  hands  of  able  and  experienced 
warriors,  devoted  unconditionally  to  the  Sultan  in  whom 
all  had  entire  confidence.  Thirty  years  of  brilliant  and 
successful  warfare  in  Asia  and  Europe  sufficed  to  build 
up  his  great  military  reputation.  Sultan  Murat  entered 
the  Plain  of  Kossovo  with  his  armies,  taking  southern 
positions  as  far  as  Prishtina,  once  the  royal  seat  of  the 
Nemanyas. — The  combined  allied  armies  of  Prince  Lazar, 
Vuk  Brankovitch,  George  Balshitch,  and  King  Tvrtko,  who 
opposed  the  Sultan,  did  not  amount  to  more  than  half 
the  number  of  the  Turks.  The  Serbian  army  was  composed 
mainly  of  cavalry  and  infantry,  with  but  few  archers. 
They  were  also  well  equipped,  nor  were  they  ill  disciplined, 
or  without  enthusiasm.  On  the  contrary,  the  conflict  being 
waged  in  defence  of  Christianity  and  independence,  the 
Serbian  soldiers  brought  all  their  courage  to  the  fight. 
The  Turkish  chroniclers  relate  that  the  Serbian  army  was 
in  good  spirits  before  the  battle;  the  soldiers  sang  songs 
in  praise  of  their  nation's  heroism.  There,  too,  the  command 
was  in  the  hands  of  tried  warriors,  who  had  won  their  experi- 
ences in  the  constant  fighting  of  those  days.  The  Turks, 
however,  had  a  great  advantage,  their  command  being  in 
a  single  hand — that  of  the  Sultan — whilst  the  Serbs  had  an 
army  composed  of  allies  without  a  supreme  authority. 

14 


The  Serbs  took  up  the  northern  positions  on  the  Kossovo 
Plain  opposite  to  the  Turks. 

The  fighting  began  on  the  morning  of  St.  Vitus'  Day, 
Tuesday,  the  15th  June,  1389.  Both  sides  were  fully  conscious 
that  it  was  a  struggle  for  very  existence,  arid  enormous 
numbers  were  wounded  and  slain.  In  regard  to  the  huge 
number  of  casualties  on  Kossovo,  the  traditions  of  the  Serbian 
ballads  agree  very  closely  with  the  written  records.  The 
Turkish  historian  Nesri  says  that  "  blood  was  shed  "  ;  there 
were  "  mountains  of  slain,"  that  "  heads  fell  to  the  ground 
like  pebbles."  At  first  fortune  favoured  the  Serbs.  The 
Turkish  left  wing  was  repulsed,  and  the  Serbian  army  almost 
came  into  touch  with  the  flank  of  the  Turkish  centre.  A 
brave  Serbian  captain,  by  the  name  of  Milosh  Obilitch,  who, 
owing  to  intrigue  had  fallen  under  Lazar's  displeasure, 
anxious  to  prove  his  loyalty,  cut  his  way  through  the  Turks 
and  slew  the  Sultan  with  his  own  hand.  The  Serbian 
national  songs,  in  celebrating  the  deed  of  Milosh,  add  that  he 
slew  many  other  Turks  besides.  But  at  the  most  critical 
moment  of  the  battle,  the  young  Sultan  Bajazid  advanced 
the  right  wing  to  the  aid  of  the  left  with  fresh  reserves,  and, 
attacking  the  Serbian  right,  rolled  it  back  over  the  river 
Sitnitza,  and  threw  the  Serbs  into  disorder.  Prince  Lazar, 
who  was  personally  taking  part  in  the  fighting,  fell  from  his 
horse  into  a  pit ;  the  Serbs  lost  sight  of  him  in  the  confusion 
of  the  fighting,  the  Turks  came  up,  took  him  prisoner  and  led 
him  away.  Several  other  Serbian  leaders  were  also  captured. 

By  the  afternoon  fighting  was  at  an  end.  The  Serbian 
army  had  been  cut  to  pieces.  Prince  Lazar  and  the  other 
captive  princes  were  beheaded  on  the  spot.  Kossovo  became 
the  grave  of  Serbian  freedom. 

Prince  Lazar's  body  was  laid  to  rest  in  the  monastery 
of  Gratchanitza,  on  Kossovo.  From  thence  his  remains  were 
transferred  to  the  monastery  of  Ravanitza,  which  had  been 
built  out  of  Lazar's  private  fortune.  The  Serbian  Church 
has  cannonised  Prince  Lazar,  and  the  day  of  his  death,  15th 
June,  O.S.,  is  observed  in  his  honour  every  year.  The 
Serbian  literature  from  the  Middle  Ages  till  this  very  day,  and 
the  Serbian  people — from  the  ruling  dynasties  to  the  poor 
peasants  and  illiterate  monks — have  heaped  praise  and 
gratitude  upon  Prince  Lazar.  The  common  people  worship 
at  his  tomb,  as  pilgrims  worship  at  the  Holy  Sepulchre. 
When  the  Serbian  people  abandoned  the  home  of  their 
fathers  in  search  of  safety  from  the  Turks,  the  Serbian  monks, 
with  other  relics,  bore  away  the  remains  of  Prince  Lazar  and 
interred  them  in  the  monastery  at  Vrdnik  in  the  Frushka 
Gora  in  Syrmium,  which  was  then  renamed  Nova  Ravanitza 

15 


(New  Ravanitza).  Year  after  year  the  Serbs  of  South 
Hungary  gather  in  crowds  in  Ravanitza  on  the  anniversary  of 
Lazar's  death  to  worship  at  the  shrine  of  St.  Lazar,  and  to  kiss 
reverently  the  relics  of  the  Prince  who  died  for  Serbia's 
freedom.  There  is  hardly  any  Serb  in  Austria  and  Hungary 
who  has  not  kissed  his  hand,  so  strongly  alive  is  the 
tradition  of  the  Kossovo  disaster  there. 


The  traveller  of  to-day,  after  a  lapse  of  over  five 
hundred  years,  passing  through  Kossovo  Plain,  can  hear  the 
living  traditions  of  the  great  St.  Vitus'  Day  from  the 
inhabitants  themselves.  They  will  show  him  many  tomb- 
stones with  turbans  carved  upon  them  and  tell  him  that  these 
stones  mark  the  graves  of  the  Turks  who  fell  in  the  battle 
of  Kossovo,  and  they  will  point  out  many  plain  tombstones 
under  which  Serbs  lie  buried.  On  one  hill  they  will  show  him 
a  cairn  containing  two  graves,  which  are  guarded  by  a 
dervish,  who  tells  that  these  are  the  graves  of  Gazi-Sinan  the 
Grand  Vizier  and  his  servant  who  perished  at  the  hand  of 
Milosh  Obilitch.  About  the  cairn  are  thousands  of  Turkish 
graves  and  they  say  that  Milosh  slew  all  these  men  as  well. 
A  little  further  on  there  is  a  Turkish  shrine  (Tolbe)  which 
marks  the  spot  where  Murat  perished.  Around  this  spot  the 
fight  raged  most  fiercely.  Popular  tradition  goes  even 
further  and  attaches  special  memories  of  Kossovo  battle 
to  every  place.  Every  river,  every  town  and  village  on  the 
Plain  and  on  the  mountains  encircling  it,  each  has  its  own 
tradition.  Even  the  red  peony,  that  grows  luxuriantly  on 
Kossovo,  is  said  to  owe  its  crimson  hue  to  the  blood  of  the 
Serbian  soldiers  who  fell  there. 

The  battle  of  Kossovo  has  set  its  sign  upon  the  Serbian 
nation.  Among  the  whole  of  the  Serbian  nation  it  is 
considered  unlucky  to  start  anything  on  a  Tuesday,  because 
the  battle  of  Kossovo  fell  on  a  Tuesday.  The  reason  for 
every  ordinary  mishap  is  sought  in  the  disaster  of  Kossovo. 
"  Things  are  hard  for  us,  hard  since  Kossovo,"  is  an  exclama- 
tion you  may  hear  whenever  a  misfortune  of  any  kind 
occurs.  To  this  day  the  women  of  Montenegro  and  Herze- 
govina wail  for  Kossovo  as  they  do  after  a  death,  instead  of 
singing  of  it.  When  an  amazed  scholar  on  his  travels  asked 
them  who  had  died,  he  was  told  :  "  Nobody  has  died ; 
but  we  wail  for  Lazar  and  Milosh  who  fell  at  Kossovo." 


1 6 


III. 

The  dire  consequences  of  the  battle  of  Kossovo  were 
not  all  apparent  immediately  after  the  battle.  In  the  actual 
fighting  both  Serbs  and  Turks  had  sustained  great  losses. 
Both  the  chief  generals  had  perished.  Immediately  after 
the  battle  the  new  Sultan  Bajazid  withdrew  to  Adrianople, 
there  to  assume  the  Royal  State  in  accordance  with  Turkish 
custom.  King  Tvrtko  of  Bosnia,  whose  army  took  part  in  the 
battle  of  Kossovo,  was  under  the  impression  that  the  Serbs 
had  been  victorious,  and  spread  reports  to  this  effect  in  the 
countries  of  Western  Europe.  Meantime,  it  soon  became 
evident  how  matters  truly  stood.  Turkey  had  increased  in 
size  and  strength.  The  Turkish  throne  was  occupied  by  an 
enterprising  and  capable  Sultan,  supported  by  a  powerful 
army  and  devoted  generals.  In  Serbia  everything  was 
different.  The  alliance  of  the  Serbian  rulers  was  annihilated 
at  Kossovo.  Prince  Lazar's  country,  the  most  important 
factor  against  the  Turks,  was  left  without  a  head.  The 
Government  of  Serbia  was  undertaken  by  Lazar's  widow, 
Princess  Militza,  as  Regent  for  her  youthful  son ;  she  was 
an  able  woman,  and  pious,  but  too  weak  for  the  desperate 
position  of  Serbia  at  that  juncture.  She  was  compelled,  not 
only  to  continue  the  struggle  against  the  Turks,  but  also  to 
fight  the  smaller  Serbian  principalities  who  were  trying  to  be 
beforehand  with  the  Turks  in  enlarging  their  own  power  at 
the  expense  of  Lazar's  territory.  The  struggle  against  the 
Turks  on  the  one  hand  and  the  Serbian  smaller  States  on  the 
other  gradually  exhausted  the  strength  of  the  Serbian  nation. 
The  attempts  made  by  the  rest  of  Europe  to  check  theTurkish 
advance  came  late  and  were  insufficient.  The  Serbian 
States,  though  they  continued  the  struggle,  were  powerless 
to  resist  and  fell  one  by  one  into  the  hands  of  the  Turks. 
Serbia  as  a  whole  fell  in  1459,  Bosnia  in  1463,  Herzegovina 
in  1482,  Montenegro  nominally  in  1499.  Of  Serbia's  great 
past  and  her  heroic  struggle  for  existence,  nothing  remained 
but  a  glorious  memory. 

By  the  battle  of  Kossovo  more  was  lost  than  the  inde- 
pendence of  the  Serbian  countries.  Its  consequences  weie 
much  further  reaching.  By  the  defeat  of  the  Serbs,  the  gate 
of  Central  Europe  was  open  to  the  Turks  and  to  all  the  ravages 
they  committed. 

TlH.    R.    GjORGJEVITCH. 


17 


SERBIA'S  GREATEST  BATTLE. 

By  Sir  Arthur  Evans. 

Historically  the  battle  of  Kossovo  was  essentially  a 
drawn  battle.  Nay,  in  many  respects  the  balance  seemed 
to  incline  to  the  Christian  side.  If  one  of  the  Confederate 
Princes,  Knez  Lazar,  of  Danubian  Serbia,  met  his  death, 
the  Turks  lost,  in  their  Sultan  Amurath,  the  head  of  their 
whole  empire.  The  Turkish  host,  under  the  new  Sultan 
Bajazet,  withdrew  to  Adrianople.  The  most  valuable 
prizes  that  in  case  of  victory  might  have  fallen  into  Turkish 
hands  were  left  in  Serbian  possession.  ^s?^j 

The  thriving  towns  of  Novobrdo,  in  the  very  neighbour- 
hood of  Kossovo,  and  Kratovo,  nearer  to  the  Macedonian 
border — the  centres  of  the  important  silver-mining  industry — 
remained  untouched.  No  attempt  was  made  to  occupy  the 
Imperial  cities  of  Prisrend  and  Skoplje.  It  was  not  without 
reason  that  the  commander  of  the  Bosnian  and  Primorian 
contingent,  Vlatko  Hranitch,  who  drew  off  his  own  forces 
from  the  field  in  good  order,  sent  tidings  of  victory  to  his 
master,  King  Tvrtko,  passed  on  by  him  to  the  citizens  of 
Trail  and  Florence.  In  the  Cathedral  of  Notre  Dame  Te 
Deums  of  thanksgiving  for  the  success  of  the  Christian  arms 
were  actually  celebrated  in  the  presence  of  the  King  of 
France. 

Contemporaries  were  impressed  by  the  great  forces 
engaged — the  Turks  actually  magnified  the  Christian  hosts 
to  half  a  million  men  !  The  dramatic  incidents  of  the  battle 
inspired  poetic  commemoration  among  the  Turks  as  well  as 
the  Serbs.  "  The  Turkish  histories,"  as  the  English 
historian,  Richard  Knolles,  records,  "  to  express  the  day, 
vainely  say  that  the  angels  in  Heaven,  amazed  with  that 
hideous  noise,  for  that  time  forgot  the  heavenly  hymns 
wherewith  they  alwaies  glorify  God."  It  is  possible,  indeed, 
that  for  the  first  time  in  Balkan  war  cannon  may  have 
contributed  to  the  din  of  battle,  since  the  Venetians  had 
shortly  before  presented  a  "  falconus "  to  the  King  of 
Bosnia. 

18 


LAST  UNITED  EFFORT  OF  THE  SERBS. 

Thus  the  first  impression  of  the  fight  was  that  of  an 
heroic  combat  between  equals.  The  bards  who  carried  on 
the  Court  poetry  that  had  already  existed  in  the  days  of 
Tzar  Dushan  and  earlier  kings,  dramatized  the  incidents 
of  the  battle  without  any  particular  reference  to  historic 
consequences.  It  was  only  the  later  realization  of  its  far- 
reaching  effects  that  made  the  Lay  of  Kossovo  an  epic 
record  of  what  proved  to  have  been  the  last  united  effort 
of  the  Serbian  race  to  resist  the  Asiatic  invader.  It  was 
itself  an  inheritance  from  days  when  the  spirit  of  the  Serb 
people  as  a  whole  was  still  unbroken,  and  it  was  from  this 
quality  indeed  that  it  drew  its  inspiration  in  the  dark  days 
that  were  to  come. 

In  reality  the  apparently  even  fortunes  of  the  opposing 
hosts — the  superficial  point  that  impressed  contemporaries — 
were  profoundly  misleading.  The  Serbian  Prince  Lazar 
was  only  one  of  several  Confederate  champions,  the  most 
important  of  whom,  at  least,  the  Bosnian  King,  would 
hardly  have  recognized  him  as  even  primus  inter  pares. 
The  combination  of  so  many  Christian  forces  was  itself 
a  mighty  effort.  But  even  the  most  decisive  victory  could 
have  hardly  given  a  permanent  value  to  what  in  reality 
was  a  loosely  compacted  alliance  of  princes  and  chieftains 
standing  in  various  feudal  relations  of  different  races  and 
of  opposing  creeds,  and  scattered  over  a  physically  divided 
geographical  area  extending  from  North  Macedonia  to  the 
Danube  and  the  Adriatic. 

On  the  other  hand,  the  fall  of  Amurath  did  not  seriously 
affect  the  centralized  Ottoman  organization.  The  "  light- 
ning "  Bajazet  flashed  at  once  into  his  father's  place.  The 
Serbs,  too,  it  should  be  remembered,  had  barely  recovered 
from  the  terrible  slaughter  on  the  banks  of  the  Maritza 
some  25  years  earlier.  Lazar  himself  had  already  suffered 
the  loss  of  Nish,  and  had  been  reduced  to  the  position  of 
a  tributary  and  dependent.  From  their  European  capital 
of  Adrianople  the  Turks  already  dominated  most  of  the 
eastern  half  of  the  Peninsula.  They  were  astride  of  the 
Balkans,  and  had  subjugated  Danubian  Bulgaria,  while, 
on  the  other  side,  the  possession  of  Seres  was  a  threat  to 
Salonika  itself. 

LOOSENESS  OF  THE  CHRISTIAN  ALLIANCE. 

Apart  from  the  particularist  tendencies  of  the  great 
feudatories  and  the  personal  jealousies  of  which  we  have 
the  echo  in  the  legendary  treason  of  Vuk  Brankovitch  on 
the  field  of  Kossovo  itself,  it  is  hard  to  discover  any  firm 

19 


elements  of  cohesion  among  the  various  units  represented 
in  the  great  alliance.  Islam  was  a  reality  ;  Christendom 
less  than  a  name.  What  real  sympathy  is  it  possible  to 
detect  between  the  militant  Catholicism  of  Hungary  and 
its  Bosnian  vassals  and  the  Orthodox  Serbian  princes  ? 

The  seeds  of  still  worse  discord  lay  in  Bosnia  itself, 
where  the  Catholic  persecution  of  the  puritan  and  quasi- 
Manichaean  Bogomili  was  to  bear  fruit  in  the  wholesale 
conversion  of  the  latter  to  Mahomedanism.  Regional 
interests  and  religious  jealousies  were  thus  for  over  five 
centuries  to  rivet  the  bondage  of  the  Serbian  people  and  to 
bar  the  way  to  any  political  union  between  the  kindred 
members  of  the  South  Slav  race. 

But,  through  all  this,  the  epic  Lay  of  Kossovo,  sung  from 
generation  to  generation  by  peasant  bards  to  the  strains 
of  the  one-stringed  guzla  in  the  remotest  mountain  glens 
and  the  busiest  market-places,  has  still  been  a  common 
heirloom  of  the  whole  people.  It  has  perpetuated  the 
tradition  of  national  unity  and  kept  green  the  memory  of 
heroic  deeds.  It  held  up  withal  the  traitors  of  the  past  to 
lasting  obloquy.  The  lesson  brought  home  by  it  is  one 
which  all  members  of  the  South  Slav  race  take  to  heart 
to-day.  It  is  summed  up  in  the  Serbian  motto,  "  Samo 
Sloga  Srbina  Spasava  " — "  Union  only  saves  the  Serbs." 

("  Times  "  on   Kossovo  Day,  June  28th,  1916.) 


THE    EPIC    LAY    OF    KOSSOVO. 
Three    Serbian  Ballads. 


1  There  resteth  to  Serbia  a  glory, 
'  A  glory  that  shall  not  grow  old ; 
'  There  remaineth  to  Serbia  a  story, 

A  tale  to  be  chanted  and  told  ! 

They  are  gone  to  their  graves  grim  and  gory 

The  beautiful,  brave,   and  bold  ; 

But  out  of  the  darkness  and  desolation 
'  Of  the  mourning  heart  of  a  widow'd  nation, 

Their  memory  waketh  an  exultation  ! 

Yea,  so  long  as  a  babe  shall  be  born, 

Or  there  resteth  a  man  in  the  land — 

So  long  as  a  blade  of  corn 

Shall  be  reap'd  by  a  human  hand — 

So  long  as  the  grass  shall  grow 

On  the  mighty  plain  of  Kossovo — 

So  long,  so  long,  even  so, 
'  Shall  the  glory  of  those  remain 

Who  this  day  in  battle  were  slain." 

— Translated  by  OWEN  MEREDITH. 


THE  BATTLE  OF  KOSSOVO. 

Murad  camped  on  the  Field  of  Blackbirds, 
And  then  a  letter  did  he  write, 
And  to  the  fortress  of  Krushevatz  sent  it : — 
To  the  knees  of  Lazar,  Prince  of  the  Serbs  I 
O  Prince  Lazar,  Head  of  this  land, 
It  never  was  known,  and  it  never  can  be, 
That  in  one  Empire  two  should  rule, 
And  that  the  lieges  should  doubly  be  taxed. 
We  cannot  both  of  us  bear  the  sceptre. 
Send  to  me  then  the  keys  and  the  taxes. 
The  golden  keys  of  each  strong  place, 
And  the  taxes  for  seven  years. 
And  shouldst  thou  decline  to  send  them  me, 
Then  let  us  meet  on  the  Field  of  Blackbirds 
And  with  our  sabres  divide  the  Empire." 

When  Tsar  Lazar  received  this  letter, 
He  read  it  through  and  bitterly  wept. 
Oh  if  some  one  could  but  have  listened, 
To  hear  the  deep  curses  of  the  prince. 

He  who  does  not  come  to  the  Field  of  Blackbirds, 

Let  nothing  prosper  in  his  hands, 

Neither  the  gold-white  wheat  in  the  field, 

Nor  the  vine  on  the  mountain  side, 

Nor  the  children  playing  at  home." 

Then  Tsar  Lazar  kept  his  nameday 
In  the  silent  fortress  of  Krushevatz. 
At  his  rich  table  he  seated  his  guests, 
All  his  lords  and  noble  courtiers. 
On  the  right  sat  the  old  Jug  Bogdan, 
At  his  side  the  nine  Jugovitch  brothers  ; 
Vuk  Brankovitch  on  his  left, 
And  the  other  lords  in  their  due  order. 
But  facing  him  was  Milosh  seated, 
And  beside  him  two  Serbian  Voivodes — 
Ivan  Kossantchitch  was  the  one, 
And  the  other  was  Milan  Toplitza. 


The  Tsar  lifted  the  brimming  goblet, 
And  thus  he  spake  to  his  noble  guests  : — 
To  whom  shall  I  quaff  the  brimming  beaker  ? 
If  it  be  age  that  should  decide, 
Then  I  must  pledge  the  old  Jug  Bogdan. 
If  it  be  rank  that  should  decide  it, 
Then  I  must  drink  to  Vuk  Brankovitch. 
If  I  may  follow  the  voice  of  feeling, 
Then  the  cup  falls  to  my  wife's  dear  brothers, 
To  my  wife's  brothers,  the  nine  Jugovitch. 
Should  manly  beauty  prescribe  my  choice, 
Then  the  cup  is  the  prize  of  Kossantchitch, 
And  if  height  is  to  decide, 
Then  the  cup  is  Milan  Toplitza's. 
But  if  hero's  prowess  decides  my  choice, 
Then  I  drain  it  to  Milosh  the  Voivode  : 
To  no  other  may  it  be  pledged. 
To  the  health  of  Milosh  Obilitch  ! 

Thy  health,  O  Milosh,  loyal  and  false 

First  loyal  to  me — and  at  last  to  me  false. 
To-morrow  thou  wilt  in  battle  betray  me, 
Wilt  pass  over  to  Murad's  army. 
Thy  health,  O  Milosh,  and  drain  the  beaker  : 
Drink,  and  keep  it  as  a  gift." 


Up  to  his  feet  sprang  Milosh  Obilitch, 
Then  to  the  black  earth  down  he  bowed. 
Thanks  to  thee,  most  gracious  Tsar  Lazar, 
My  heartfelt  thanks  to  thee  for  thy  toast ; 
For  thy  toast  and  for  thy  present ; 
But  no  thanks  for  such  a  speech  ! 
For — else  may  my  faith  undo  me — 
Never  unfaithful  have  I  been, 
Ne'er  have  I  been,  and  ne'er  shall  be. 
But  I  am  resolved  on  the  field  to-morrow 
For  the  faith  of  Christ  to  give  my  life. 
But  faithless  sits  at  thy  very  knee 
And  drinks  the  wine  from  his  silk-draped  glass, 
He,  the  accursed,  the  traitor  Brankovitch. 
On  the  sacred  Vitus-Day  to-morrow 
We  shall  see  on  the  Field  of  Blackbirds, 
Who  is  faithful  and  who  is  faithless. 
But  by  God  the  Almighty  I  swear  it — 
To-morrow  I'll  go  to  the  Field  of  Blackbirds, 
And  there  I  shall  kill  the  Sultan  Murad, 
And  plant  my  foot  upon  his  throat. 


-3 


'  Should  God  and  fortune  grant  to  me 

'  My  safe  return  to  Krushevatz, 

'  Vuk  Brankovitch  shall  be  my  captive, 

'  And  to  my  warlance  I  shall  bind  him, 

'  As  a  woman  the  flax  to  her  apron, 

'  And  shall  drag  him  thus  to  the  Field  of  Blackbirds." 

(Translated  by  R.  W.  SETON- WATSON.) 


THE  MOTHER  OF  THE  JUGOVITCH. 

Dear  God,  how  great  a  marvel ! 

When  the  army  camped  on  the  field  of  Kossovo, 

And  in  that  army  nine  Jugovitch  brothers, 

And  the  tenth,  the  old  Jug  Bogdan. 

The  mother  of  the  Jugovitch  prays  to  God, 

That  He  may  give  her  the  eyes  of  a  falcon 

And  the  white  wings  of  a  swan, 

That  she  may  fly  to  the  Plain  of  Kossovo 

And  may  see  the  nine  Jugovitch  brothers, 

And  the  tenth,  the  old  Jug  Bogdan. 

As  she  prayed,  her  prayer  was  granted, 

God  gave  her  the  eyes  of  a  falcon 

And  the  white  wings  of  a  swan. 

Then  she  flies  to  the  Plain  of  Kossovo. 

Dead  she  found  the  nine  Jugovitch  brothers, 

And  the  tenth,  the  old  Jug  Bogdan. 

And  above  them,  nine  spears  of  battle ; 

Perched  on  the  spears,  falcons  nine  ; 

Around  the  spears,  nine  good  steeds  ; 

And  beside  them  nine  grim  lions. 

Then  did  they  whinny,  the  nine  good  steeds  ; 

Then  did  they  roar,  the  nine  grim  lions; 

Then  did  they  scream,  the  nine  falcons. 

E'en  then  the  mother  was  hard  of  heart, 

And  from  her  heart  no  tear  did  rise. 


But  she  takes  the  nine  good  steeds, 
And  she  takes  the  nine  grim  lions, 
And  she  takes  the  nine  falcons. 


Back  she  turns  to  her  castle  white. 
From  afar  her  sons'  wives  saw  her  : 
A  little  nearer  they  came  to  meet  her. 
There  was  clamour  of  nine  widows  : 
There  was  weeping  of  nine  orphans  : 
There  was  neighing  of  nine  good  steeds  : 
There  was  roaring  of  nine  grim  lions  : 
There  was  screaming  of  nine  falcons. 
E'en  then  the  mother  was  hard  of  heart, 
And  from  her  heart  no  tear  did  rise. 


When  night  was  come,  and  the  midnight  was  there, 

Then  the  grey  horse  of  Damian  groaned. 

And  Damian's  mother  asked  his  wife  : 

"  Daughter  of  mine  and  wife  of  Damian, 

"  What  sets  the  horse  of  Damian  groaning? 

"  Can  it  be  hunger  for  pure  white  corn  ? 

"  Can  it  be  thirst  for  water  of  Zvetchan  ?  " 

Then  answered  the  wife  of  Damian  : 

"It  is  not  hunger  for  pure  white  corn  : 

"It  is  not  thirst  for  water  of  Zvetchan. 

"  It  is,  that  Damian  had  taught  him, 

"  Till  midnight,  to  feast  on  hay, 

"  And  after  midnight,  to  take  the  road. 

"  Now  'tis  his  master  he  is  mourning, 

"  For  he  will  never  bear  him  more." 

E'en  then  the  mother  was  hard  of  heart, 

And  from  her  heart  no  tear  did  rise. 


When  morning  came  and  break  of  dawn, 
There  came  flying  two  coal-black  ravens. 
Bloody  were  their  wings  up  to  the  shoulders. 
Round  their  beaks  there  clung  white  foam. 
And  they  carried  the  hand  of  a  hero, 
And  on  the  hand  a  wedding-ring  of  gold. 
They  threw  it  into  the  mother's  lap. 


The  mother  of  the  Jugovitch  took  the  hand, 

She  turned  it  round,  she  fondled  it, 

And  then  she  called  the  wife  of  Damian. 

"  Daughter  of  mine  and  wife  of  Damian, 

"  Couldst  thou  tell  whose  hand  is  this  ?  " 

Then  answered  the  wife  of  Damian  : 

"  Mother  of  mine,  O  mother  of  Damian, 


"  This  is  the  hand  of  our  own  Damian, 
"  For  I  do  know  the  ring,  my  mother  ; 
"  At  the  betrothal  I  did  have  it." 
The  mother  took  the  hand  of  Damian, 
She  turned  it  round,  she  fondled  it. 
Then  to  the  hand  she  softly  spake  : 
"  O  my  hand,  my  fresh  green  apple, 
"  Where  didst  thou  grow,  where  wert  thou  plucked? 
'  'Twas  on  my  bosom  thou  didst  grow. 
"  The  plucking,  'twas  on  Kossovo's  plain." 
Speaking,  she  breathed  her  soul  away. 

(Translated  by  R.  W.  SETON- WATSON.) 


THE  MAIDEN  OF  KOSSOVO. 
(After  the  Battle.) 

The  maiden  of  Kossovo  rose  early 

On  the  Sabbath  morn,  sooner  than  sunrise  ; 

From  her  round  arms  she  turned  back  the  white  sleeves, 

Turned  them  backward  above  the  white  elbows. 

On  her  shoulders  a  bag  was  with  white  bread — 

And  in  her  hands  were  two  golden  vessels  ; 

One  vessel  was  fresh  filled  with  cool  water, 

The  other  to  the  brim  was  with  red  wine. 

She  went  straight  to  the  Plain  of  Kossovo 

And  sadly  walked  over  the  battlefield 

Where  the  glorious  Tzar  Lazar  had  fallen. 

In  the  blood-pools  she  turned  round  the  heroes, 

And  if  she  found  still  one  of  them  breathing 

She  bathed  him  gently  with  clear  cold  water  ; 

As  sacrament  she  gave  him  the  red  wine, 

And  fed  him  with  small  crumbs  of  the  white  bread. 

In  her  wanderings  she  came,  God  guided, 
To  the  brave  young  knight,  Orlovitch  Pavlo  : 
He  who  carried  the  Tzar  Lazar's  standard. 
She  found  him  yet  alive,  and  still  conscious, 
Though  the  right  arm  was  slash'd  from  the  shoulder, 
And  the  left  leg  cut  off  from  the  knee-joint — 
Yet  alive,  though  his  ribs  all  were  broken, 
And  his  lung?  were  laid  bare  to  the  daylight  ! 

26 


She  drew  him  forth  from  a  blood-lake, 
She  bathed  him  softly  with  clear,  cold  water  ; 
Then  she  gave  him  to  drink  of  the  red  wine, 
And  fed  him  with  small  crumbs  of  the  white  bread. 


When  his  heart  beatings  grew  somewhat  stronger, 
Said  brave  Orlovitch  faint  to  the  maiden  : 
"  My  sister,  thou,  maiden  of  Kossovo, 
"  Tell  me  what  is  the  dire  need  which  drives  thee 
"  To  move  brave  men  in  midst  of  their  life-blood  ? 
"  Whom  seekest  thou,  so  young,  in  this  red  field  ? 
"  A  brother  ?  Or  the  son  of  a  brother  ? 
"Or  is  it  thy  old  father  thou  seekest  ?  " 


Then  the  maiden  of  Kossovo  answered  : 

"  Dear  brother  !  dear  thou  art  though  a  stranger, 

"  I  am  seeking  here  none  of  my  kindred  ; 

"  Neither  brother  nor  son  of  a  brother — 

"  I  seek  not  even  my  own  old  father  ! 

"  To  thee  it  must  be  known,  O  strange  Vojvode, 

"  When  all  the  Tzar's  men  took  communion 

"  In  the  beautiful  church  Samodreja, 

"  The  whole  army  took  there  communion. 


"  Last  of  all  came  three  valiant  Vojvodes, 

"  Obilitch  Milosh,  Kossantchitch  Ivan, 

"  And  the  third  one,  Milan  of  Toplitza. 

"  Three  noble  Vojvodes  !  three  of  the  noblest  ! 

"  They  never  had  their  equals  in  this  world  ! 

"  When  they  walk'd  their  swords  rung  on  the  pavement, 

"  On  their  heads  they  wore  kalpaks  of  pure  silk, 

"  Round  their  shoulders  hung  long  chains  of  gold  links, 

"  On  their  necks  they  wore  kerchiefs  of  silk  cloth ; 

"  They  wore  also  gold  rings  on  their  fingers. 


"  When  the  Obilitch  Milosh  passed  by  me, 
"  He  gave  me  for  a  present  his  gold  chain  ; 
"  When  the  Kossantchitch  Ivan  passed  by  me, 
'  He  gave  me  for  a  present  his  gold  ring  ; 
'  But  when  Milan  of  Toplitza  passed  by, 
'  He  gave  to  me  his  fine  glove  of  gold  thread  ; 
'  And  he  marked  me  thereby  for  his  true  love. 
'These  seek  I  to-day  on  the  battlefield." 


Said  again  to  her  Orlovitch  Pavlo  : 

"  My  dear  sister,  maiden  of  Kossovo, 

"  Dost  thou  not  see  there  those  broken  war  spears  ? 

"  The  last  life-blood  of  heroes  has  flowed  there  I 

"Flowed  high  up  as  the  stirrups  of  war  steeds! 

"  It  has  reached  to  the  belts  of  the  footmen  ! 

"It  is  there  thy  three  heroes  have  fallen  ! 

"But  go  back  to  thy  white  house,  my  sister! 

"  Stain  not  thus  thy  white  skirts  and  thy  white  sleeves. 

When  the  maiden  of  Kossovo  heard  him, 
The  great  tears  fell  fast  over  her  white  cheeks. 
She  went  back  to  the  house  of  her  father  ; 
Wildly  weeping  she  went  back,  and  wailing, 
"  Woe  to  me  !  What  ill-luck  has  befallen  me  ! 
"  Oh,  were  I  but  to  touch  the  green  pine  tree, 
"  The  green  tree  at  my  sad  touch  would  wither." 

(Translated  by  E.  L.  MIJATOVITCH.) 


KOSSOVO    DAY    HEROES 

whose    memory    will    never    fade. 

By  Alice  and  Claude  Askew. 

Salonica. 

Serbia  is  once  more  a  conquered  nation  but  she  keeps 
the  anniversary  of  Kossovo  (June  28th)  all  the  same.  It 
has  been  observed  religiously  for  more  than  500  years. 
Her  women  and  children  will  mourn  for  the  dead  cavaliers 
who  fell  in  glorious  conflict  on  the  green  plain,  fighting 
the  infidel  Turks,  and  her  army  waiting  round  and  about 
Salonica  will  remember  the  great  Czar  Lazar  and  the  hero 
Milosh  Obilitch. 

The  dress  that  the  peasant  women  wear  all  over 
Serbia,  the  long,  straight,  white  robe,  heavily  embroidered 
with  black  wool  round  the  hem  and  sleeves,  is  worn  as 
mourning  for  the  mighty  captains  who  perished  on  the 
historic  battlefield  that,  to  quote  from  a  Turkish  chronicler, 
"  became  like  a  tulip  bed,  with  its  ruddy  severed  heads 
and  rolling  turbans,"  for  the  Serbians  will  never  forget 
how  bravely  Lazar  and  his  cavaliers  fought  till  they  fell. 
They  are  proud  of  the  glorious  dead.  They  talk  of  the  great 
battle  as  if  it  had  taken  place  yesterday  instead  of  five 
centuries  ago.  In  their  own  poetical  language  they  will 
describe  how  the  bright  armour  that  the  Serbians  wore 
gleamed  like  the  lightning  when  the  cavaliers  charged, 
and  how  the  blades  of  the  Turkish  sabres — those  blades 
that  had  flashed  like  diamonds  at  the  start  of  the  combat, 
became  as  red  as  hyacinths  as  the  day  wore  on — the  day 
that  heralded  in  Serbia's  long  night  of  servitude  and  oppres- 
sion. 

The  ballads  that  have  helped  so  wonderfully  to  main- 
tain the  patriotism  and  the  courage  of  the  Serbs,  those 
ballads  that  the  mothers  of  Serbia  have  sung  to  their  sons 
as  they  nursed  them,  are  full  of  references  to  Kossovo. 

29 


We  learn  how  the  mother  of  the  Jugovitch  prayed  to  God 
that  He  would  give  her  the  eyes  of  a  falcon  and  the  white 
wings  of  a  swan  that  she  might  fly  to  the  plain  of  Kossovo 
and  see  how  it  fared  with  her  nine  sons.  Her  prayer  was 
granted,  but  she  found  her  sons  dead.  Her  heart  did  not 
break  till  next  day,  however,  when  at  dawn  two  coal-black 
ravens  brought  her  on  their  beaks  the  clay-cold  hand  of  her 
son  Damian.  The  mother  fondled  the  hand  for  some  little 
time,  then  she  softly  spake  before  she  died  : — 

"  O,  my  hand,  my  fresh  green  apple — 
Where  didst  thou  grow,  where  wert  thou  plucked  ? 
'Twas  on  my  bosom  thou  didst  grow. 
The  plucking,  'twas  on  Kossovo's  plain." 

Another  ballad  relates  how  the  maid  of  Kossovo  went 
seeking  her  lover,  Milan  of  Toplitza,  who  had  given  her  his 
fine  glove  of  gold  thread  and  marked  her  thereby  for  his 
true  love,  but  where  Milan  lay  the  blood  had  flowed  so  deep 
that  the  crimson  tide  reached  to  the  very  stirrups  of  the 
war  steeds.  Wailing  bitterly,  the  fair  maid  of  Kossovo 
returned  to  her  father's  house,  crying  out  in  her  anguish 
that  were  she  but  to  touch  a  green  pine  tree  it  would  wither. 

The  day  of  Serbia's  freedom  came  round,  however. 
The  slavery  of  the  Turkish  yoke  was  powerless  to  crush 
a  nation  which  never  ceased  to  remember  their  country's 
past  glories,  a  nation  which  had  the  courage  to  keep  the 
fatal  anniversary  of  Kossovo  as  a  festival  day  during  the 
cruel  years  of  bondage,  convinced  that  the  freedom  they  so 
ardently  desired  was  bound  to  come.  And,  true  enough, 
the  last  shackles  of  the  Turkish  chain  were  severed  when 
the  Serbian  crusade  against  Islam  finished  under  King 
Peter  in  1912,  and  Serbia  rose  up  proud  and  triumphant, 
once  more  the  shining  tower  of  the  east,  anxious  only  to 
dwell  in  peace. 

But  this  was  not  to  be.  War  was  forced  on  her,  and 
then,  after  four  years  of  hard  fighting,  she  was  beset  at  the 
same  time  by  Germans,  Magyars,  and  Bulgars,  and  only 
the  flight  into  exile  saved  her  army — that  terrible  famine 
retreat  which  has  cost  such  a  heavy  toll  of  lives. 

We  remember  approaching  the  plain  of  Kossovo  during 
the  early  part  of  the  retreat,  riding  slowly  with  the  army. 
The  air  seemed  to  beat  and  quiver  to  the  tramp  of  soldiers' 
feet.  The  men  hardly  spoke  ;  they  kept  a  heavy  silence  as 
they  marched,  a  tragic  silence. 

3° 


"If  only  the  dead  could  rise!  Ah,  if  only  our  dead 
heroes  could  rise  from  their  graves  on  this  plain  and  lead 
us  back  into  battle  !  Lazar,  Milosh  Obilitch,  Kosanchich 
Ivan,  why  do  you  slumber  ?  Is  Serbia  to  be  lost  a  second 
time  ?  " 

An  officer  riding  with  us  rose  up  suddenly  in  his  stirrups 
and  addressed  the  flowing  plains.  He  spoke  out  of  the 
bitterness  of  his  heart,  aware  that  what  he  asked  was  not 
to  be — at  least,  so  it  seemed  at  the  time,  but  now  we  are 
not  so  certain,  for  who  knows  if  the  Serbian  heroes  of  to-day 
may  not  be  inspired  by  the  spirits  of  the  mighty  dead  ? 

Kossovo  Day — they  keep  it,  the  pale,  weeping  women 
and  children  in  pillaged  and  ravaged  Serbia.  Starving 
mothers  are  whispering  to  their  hungry  babes  that  a  conquer- 
ing army  will  come  to  their  help  before  long,  that  they  will 
not  be  allowed  to  perish. 

Kossovo  Day — can  you  picture  it  at  Salonica,  where  the 
Serbian  troops  wait  with  their  loins  girded  and  the  hunger 
of  the  exile  in  their  eyes  ? — remembering  the  cavaliers  who 
perished  on  the  plain  of  Kossovo,  and  remembering  the  men 
who  have  fallen  during  the  present  war,  the  Serbs  on  whose 
shoulders  the  mantle  of  Lazar  descended,  of  Lazar  and  his 
knights,  the  red  robe  of  martyrdom. 

Hail  to  Kossovo  Day,  for  it  will  be  followed  by  the  day 
of  victory  !  The  day  when  Serbia  will  leap  up  from  the  dust 
and,  binding  her  torn  locks  about  her  forehead,  will  once  more 
resume  her  crown,  and  twisted  in  and  out  that  shining  circlet 
will  be  the  fadeless  laurel  leaves  that  the  living  and  the  dead 
have  won  for  her  on  the  field  of  honour. 

("  Daily  Express  "  on   Kossovo  Day,  1916.) 


THE  THING  CALLED  A  NATION. 
The  Spiritual  Issue  of  the  War. 

By  G.  K.  Chesterton. 

Five  hundred  years  ago  our  Allies  the  Serbians  went 
down  in  the  great  Battle  of  Kossovo,  which  was  the  end 
of  their  triumph  and  the  beginning  of  their  glory.  For 
if  the  Serbian  Empire  was  mortally  wounded,  the  Serbian 
nation  had  a  chance  to  prove  itself  immortal ;  since  it  is 
only  in  death  that  we  can  discover  immortality.  So 
awfully  alive  is  that  Christian  thing  called  a  nation  that  its 
very  death  is  a  living  death.  It  is  a  living  death  which 
lasts  a  hundred  times  longer  than  any  life  of  man  ;  and  of 
what  it  meant  to  the  Serbians  I  know  of  no  possible  literary 
expression.  The  nearest  words  for  it  are  found,  I  believe, 
in  a  Serbian  proverb,  which  I  fancy  I  have  heard,  and  which 
I  am  sure  is  too  good  for  me  to  have  imagined  :  "  God 
never  made  a  heaven  until  He  saw  the  sorrows  of  the  Serbs." 


The  day  of  the  great  Turkish  victory  is  everywhere 
celebrated  by  Serbians — except  in  Serbia.  To  ask  why  it 
cannot  be  kept  in  Serbia  is  to  ask  the  central  question  about 
the  greatest  quarrel  that  has  ever  convulsed  this  planat. 
Of  its  momentousness  in  the  matter  of  Serbia  as  a  nation 
I  will  say  something  in  a  moment.  But  if  we  wished  to 
state  the  spiritual  issue  of  the  whole  war  in  its  simplest 
and  strongest  terms  I  do  not  think  we  could  find  a  better 
definition  than  this  one.  We  are  fighting  to  preserve 
that  particular  spirit  which  remembers  a  defeat  rather  than 
a  victory.  We  are  fighting  to  make  Success  a  failure. 
The  Germans  keep  the  Day  of  Sedan,  that  is  the  Day  of 
Success  ;  and  it  is  a  fact,  to  which  any  honest  observer 
will  attest,  that  they  are  conspicuous  among  other  nations 
recalling  other  victories,  by  the  fact  that  their  whole 
phraseology  and  philosophy  treats  it  as  a  part  of  an  inevit- 
able success,  of  an  interminable  Sedan.  The  Prussians 

32 


do  not  remember  and  celebrate  the  Day  of  Jena.  That  is 
why  it  is  vitally  necessary,  even  for  their  own  sakes,  to  give 
them  a  bigger  Jena,  which  they  will  be  obliged  to  remember. 
As  it  is,  the  average  Prussian  probably  realises  nothing 
about  Jena  except  that  Professor  Haeckel  lives  there ; 
which  may  indeed  be  reasonably  regarded  as  a  national 
judgment  or  visitation  in  itself  ;  but  in  which  the  divine 
irony  expresses  itself  in  too  subtle  a  manner  to  be  easily 
apprehended  by  the  Prussian  mind.  We  must  be  content 
to  tell  the  Prussian,  well  knowing  that  he  will  not  understand 
us,  that  we  are  fighting  to  give  him  a  Kossovo  Day  to  make 
a  man  of  him,  that  he  may  some  day  be  as  civilised  as  a 
Serbian  peasant. 


Kossovo  of  the  Serbians  towers  in  history  as  the  most 
tragic  and  memorable  of  such  instances  of  memory.  But 
it  is  by  no  means  the  only  instance  indicating  that  the 
Allies  stand  for  this  paradox  of  the  undefeated  defeat. 
When  I  first  went  to  Paris  as  a  mere  boy  I  think  the  thing 
that  most  struck  my  eye  and  stuck  in  my  memory  was  that 
sculptured  circle  of  the  great  cities  of  France,  in  which  the 
only  statue  still  girt  with  new  garlands  and  draperies  is 
the  lost  city  of  Strasburg.  It  seemed  to  be  a  challenge 
to  the  changes  of  time  more  momentous  and  impressive 
even  than  the  cannon  column  of  Napoleon  or  the  towers 
of  Notre  Dame.  The  whole  flood  of  our  thoughts  which 
were  then  full  of  a  German  fatalism  ran  clean  contrary 
to  that  challenge  ;  so  much  so  that  I  remember  a  phrase 
in  some  standard  English  work  expressing  not  only  wonder 
but  a  sort  of  amusement  at  the  thing,  as  if  it  were  an  impish 
variety  of  the  well-known  French  vanity.  "  Other  nations 
celebrate  their  victories,"  wrote  this  simple  and  laborious 
man.  "  Who  but  the  French  would  celebrate  even  their 
defeats  ?  "  Even  then,  I  am  glad  to  say,  I  had  glimpses 
of  a  somewhat  manlier  moral  philosophy,  and  I  never  saw 
a  sight  in  my  life  that  impelled  me  so  spontaneously  to  say, 
In  hoc  signo  vinces.  But  the  very  phrase  I  am  using  is 
enough  to  remind  me  that  the  idea  is  older  and  even  more 
historic  than  the  just  quarrel  of  France.  In  the  light  of 
that  ancient  idea,  most  assuredly,  Serbia  must  be  called 
the  eldest  brother  of  the  Alliance.  It  was  under  the  sign 
by  which  Constantine  conquered  that  Lazar  fell  in  a  failure 
that  has  been  as  fruitful  as  a  martyrdom.  And  that  sign, 
which  Constantine  saw  in  heaven  above  his  eagles,  should 
be  enough  in  itself  to  convey  that  mystery  of  Christendom 
which  must  always  be  a  menace  to  its  enemies,  and  above 

33 


all  to  the  Prussian,  its  last  and  its  most  insolent  enemy. 
There  is  but  one  religion  which  can  only  decorate  even  its 
triumphs  with  an  emblem  of  defeat.  There  is  only  one 
army  which  carries  the  image  of  its  own  captain,  not 
enthroned  or  riding,  but  captured  and  impaled. 


The  sort  of  cosmopolitan  expert  who  tests  everything 
by  the  philosophy  of  a  courier,  a  man  to  whose  globe- 
trotting cynicism  we  have  paid  far  more  attention  than 
his  shallow  experiences  deserve,  will  often  tell  us  that  he 
can  see  little  difference  between  Turk  and  Christian  in  the 
wilds  of  South  Eastern  Europe  ;  he  thinks  they  are  much 
of  a  muchness,  because  they  may  both  wear  knives  or 
what  is  worse,  indulge  in  religious  observances.  This  is 
the  true  type  of  man  who  would  have  been  a  blind  and 
barren  spectator  of  any  one  of  the  great  and  crucial  disputes 
of  history.  He  would  have  regarded  Cicero  and  Julius 
Caesar  as  two  Roman  senators  in  togas  having  a  tiff :  he 
would  have  been  fully  satisfied  with  the  fact  that  Foulon 
and  Robespierre  both  powdered  their  hair,  when  he  had  got 
over  the  real  interesting  discovery  that  they  both  spoke 
French.  The  philosophy  of  facts  always  escapes  him ; 
and  we  cannot  select  or  even  see  facts  except  by  a  philosophy. 
It  is  in  the  very  fundamentals  of  human  philosophy  that 
the  Eastern  Christians,  headed  by  the  heroic  and  unhappy 
Serbs,  differ  from  that  Asiatic  Empire  which  has  ruled  or 
rather  robbed  them.  It  is  an  ultimate  question  which 
divides  this  nation  which  is  no  longer  an  Empire  from  that 
Empire  which  has  never  been  a  nation. 


And  the  chief  fruit  of  this  philosophy  is  the  national 
idea  itself,  the  sacramental  sense  of  boundary,  the  basis 
in  an  almost  religious  sense  of  agriculture,  the  idea  of 
having  a  home  upon  this  earth,  which  the  Arab  armies 
out  of  the  deserts  can  hardly  even  be  said  to  have  violated, 
having  never  even  begun  to  understand.  If  we  in  the  West 
have  enjoyed  these  things  more  pacifically  than  the  Serbians 
it  would  be  on  the  last  level  of  vileness  for  us  to  reproach 
them  with  the  difference.  For  in  the  plain  light  of  history, 
it  is  because  they  have  been  warlike  that  we  have  found  it 
possible  to  be  peaceful.  If  they  are  fierce  it  is  because  no 
courage  short  of  sheer  fanaticism  could  have  kept  the 
frontiers  of  Christendom  against  such  locust-clouds  of  foes, 
while  we  were  electing  our  first  Parliaments  and  building 

34 


our  first  cathedrals.  While  all  we  call  the  world  was  being 
made  they  were  the  wall  of  the  world.  If  they  had  the 
faults  of  such  fighting  we  at  least  might  in  decency  regard 
them  not  as  sins,  but  scars.  If,  as  the  courier  informs  us, 
they  carry  knives,  it  is  because  they  know,  as  we  shall 
probably  never  know,  what  we  really  mean  when  we  talk 
of  war  to  the  knife.  If  they  have  wildly  struck  down 
tyrants  who  were  also  traitors,  it  is  because  for  them  a 
phrase  like  "  selling  the  pass "  is  not  a  petty  political 
metaphor,  but  has  often  referred  to  a  real  pass,  over  real 
mountains,  letting  loose  ruin  upon  real  villages  hi  a  real 
valley. 

And,  indeed,  it  is  this  vivid  and  sensitive  visualisation 
of  the  traitor  which  makes  the  main  sentiment  of  Serbia 
in  the  war.  The  Serbs  have  a  feeling  about  the  part  played 
by  Austria  which  we  in  the  West  can  but  imperfectly  under- 
stand. That  Austria  was  wholly  and  flatly  in  the  wrong 
in  the  quarrel  that  created  this  war  is  admitted  by  everyone 
in  his  five  wits.  It  may  even  be  said  that  it  was  admitted 
by  Austria,  since  she  refused  arbitration  or  even  any  sort 
of  discussion.  It  is  admitted  by  many  of  the  Germans, 
who  are,  indeed,  more  and  more  disposed  to  prove  their  own 
impeccable  virtue  at  the  expense  of  the  Austrians,  as  well 
as  of  all  the  rest  of  mankind.  But  the  Serbian  has  an  issue 
with  the  Austrian  which  is  the  more  sinister  for  being 
spiritual.  For  the  Serb  the  Austrian  is  a  Christian — like 
Judas  Iscariot.  He  is  a  Christian  who  has  stabbed  him 
in  the  back  while  he  was  still  fighting  with  his  face  to  the 
infidel.  And  his  just  anger  is  full  of  the  fury  of  five  centuries, 
and  dark  with  the  trappings  of  that  day  of  mourning  when 
the  blood  of  his  saints  and  heroes  was  given  on  the  field  of 
blackbirds  in  vain. 

("  The  Daily  News  "  on   Kossovo  Day,  1916.) 


35 


PR    SERBIA— '  KOSSOVO     DAY,'— JUNE 
28th,  1389-1916,"  was  issued  by  the  "  Kossovo 
Day"   Committee,    and   distributed   in   85,000 
copies.       In   addition,   the    Committee  published  the 
following  series  of  pamphlets  for  Kossovo  Day,  1916  : — 

1.  Kossovo  Day,  1389-1916  (with  a  decorative 
design  of  Tzar  Lazar  by  Mr.  Radovani),   ed.  by 
Father  Nicolas  Velimirovic. 

2.  Serbia  and  Kossovo,  by  Dr.  T.  R.  Gjordjevic. 

3.  Notes   on   Serbian   History,  for  lecturers. 
(Dr.  Curcin.) 

4.  Serbian    Ballads,    translated     by    R.     W. 
Seton-  Watson. 

5.  Heroic   Serbia,  from  the  French  of  Victor 
Berard. 

6.  Serbia :     Yesterday,    To-day    and    To- 
morrow,  by  R.    W.  Seton-Watson.     (25,000 
copies  for  schools.) 

7.  Serbia's   War  of   Liberation,  by  R.    W. 

Seton- Watson.     (50,000  copies.) 

8.  The  Women  of  Serbia,  by  Fanny  S.  Cope- 
land,  with  a  Preface  by  Lady  Paget. 

9.  Without  Home  and  Country,  by  a  Serbian 
Poet. 

10.  Kossovo  Day  (1399-1916).      Report  and 

two  lectures,    published   by   the   Kossovo   Day 
Committee. 

Besides  30,000  copies  of  the  Serbian  National 
Anthem,  with  English  words,  were  printed  and 
distributed,  and  numerous  post  card  reproductions  of 
Mr.  Bernard  Partridge's  cartoon  "Heroic  Serbia,"  from 
"  Punch,"  and  of  the  picture  of  Tzar  Lazar. 


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